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A Tiger Called Amnesia

A Tiger Called Amnesia

Struggling with nominal amnesia an elderly woman is in turn confused and confuses others with the unexpected coming and going of memory.

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Flash fiction


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Maggie Brown (New Zealand)


A Tiger Called Amnesia


Out of nowhere it pounces on her and crushes with a numbing grip that squeezes names to sludge. It permits her to recall only the pictures in her head. It frightens away the words. She gropes around in the cages of her mind where the birds flutter and squalk but have no names. Searching for clues, she recites the alphabet hoping she will stumble upon the noun she needs.



Frustration - it’s a word that barely scrapes the sides of her sense of loss. She puts the binoculars back in their case and comforts herself with the thought that later she will remember the name of the birds she has been watching, probably when she least expects to.




“Mother,” calls Alicia, from the open french doors, “It’s nearly time for dinner and remember, the Godfreys from next door are coming.”




When the doorbell rings she hurries to greet their guests. Smiling brightly, welcoming them, “Mrs Godfrey, Mr Godfrey, how nice to see you. She graciously accepts the proffered bunch of garden flowers and ushers them through to the drawing room. They pass the kitchen where Alicia is attending to the final preparations for the meal.

“Mmmm, something smells delicious!” says Mr Godfrey, sniffing the air appreciativly.




She pours the Godfreys an aperative, remembering that it is a sweet cream sherry for Mrs and a dry palomino for Mr., and then embarks on the necessary, preprandial small-talk.

“Hasn’t it been a lovely evening ? I’ve been bird-watching from the terrace for the last hour”, she says.

“And what birds have you seen, Muriel ?” enquires Mrs Godfrey more out of a sense of polteness than a need to know.

“Um …um …” her eye falls on a small crystal dish on the sideboard, full licorice striped candy “oh all sorts” she chirps cheerily, pulling herself together. “It’s lovely to see them gathering on the sandbank before they fly off to roost.” At least cocktail conversations are still within her grasp.




“ Sit up, everybody.” sing-songs the daughter from the kitchen, and as they take their places, Alicia appears and triumphantly puts a steaming tray of roasted fowl and vegetables on the table. “Do go ahead and help yourselves, I’ll be back in a moment with the gravy. “




“Mmmm, looks wonderful, Partridge is a particular favourite of mine.” murmurs Mrs Godfrey.




There is a short pause.




It’s Godwit, Muriel says loudly, and then seeing the consternation that flits across the guests’ faces, she reassures with “ Cordon Bleu of course.”


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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